Archive for June, 2010

We’ve been in a heat spell for a while now, with temperatures well into the 90s and rainfall irregular and reduced.  This has speeded up some things and stressed others.  I was concerned that my two beds of garlic were showing signs of drying up, but then (fortunately) received an email newsletter from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange noting that their garlic had matured early this year.  So I went ahead and harvested the four types of garlic I’d planted: Brown Tempest and Music (both hardneck garlics) and Inchelium Red and S&H Silverskin (both softneck garlics), as well as white onions.   I let them dry off in the sun for a day or two, and then moved them on screens into the garage to cure.

Today, Nic and Alison and two friends joined Monika and me in a garlic tasting exercise.  The unanimous sentiment was that while mild differences could be detected, it was hard to describe them and all were excellent.  (However, from the point of view of easy peeling, I much prefer the hardneck garlics.)  The 100 garlic bulbs harvested should get us through the next year, we hope!

Tomato season has happily begun, with Paul Robesons, Brandywines, and determinate yellow and orange tomatoes being the first to mature.  But the Eden-like quality of last year’s garden has not been replicated this year.  We’re having significant pest problems, especially with cucumber beetles and squash bugs, which have pretty much done in my first plantings of zucchini and other summer squash.  Tomatoes have been taking a hit from crows, various insects, and the (amazingly large and voracious) tomato hornworm caterpillar, and my pole beans by Mexican bean beetles.  One must learn to share, I guess….  BTW, for anyone pondering the complicated relationship between gardening and nature, I highly recommend Michael Pollan’s Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education.  It’s funny, informative, and deeply smart.

Nic and Alison spent the father’s day weekend with us, and on Saturday we all went to Lynchburg, about 45 minutes to the south.  While Monika checked out Antique Row, Nic, Alison and I took the tour at an old federal-style mansion above the James River named Point of Honor.  We managed to get lost on our way out of Lynchburg, ending up on the Blue Ridge Parkway at the amazing water gap where the James River cuts through the Blue Ridge.  It was worth the detour!  On Sunday the three of us returned to the Parkway father north and took the short hike to Humpback Rocks, with marvelous views and a beautiful day.

Monika and I recently attended our grand-daughter Cally’s high school graduation ceremony and helped out with a graduation party for close to 100 friends and family.  Cally will head off to Swarthmore in the fall and of course we’re all immensely proud of her.

For pictures of her graduation and the partying that followed two days later, click here.

Planting for our spring garden began last fall, when we planted garlic and onions in October.  After an unusually snowy winter, we planted in March peas, turnips,  a variety of greens, including lettuce, an Asian “stir-fry” mix, and collards, and have been munching on these since April.  (We also planted potatoes, which have recently been in bloom.) The pea season pretty much ended this week, but we’ve both enjoyed fresh and frozen away abundant garden, snow, and snap peas.  Today I pulled out most of the peas and replaced them with a second planting of pole beans (the first planting is already almost up to the top of the trellis).  And as if to symbolize the transition to summer vegetables, a half-dozen or so of golden and green zucchini will be ready to pick tomorrow!

Who will be the first to identify the curving stalk in this picture?
(Hint: it’s a current rage among foodies)